Summary: What type of man makes a good elder/shepherd? This sermon begins to take a look at the Biblical teaching of Titus 1.
He was not an oil-on-canvas, not a die-cast martyr, a flannel graph figure, or a religious notion. He was man. He was God. And he still is, this Lamb of God.
God was pleased to focus all his Love, and all his Truth into this caller and leader of fishemen, and tax collectors and prostitutes, this friend of lepers, this rabbi who welcomed little children.
But he didn’t stay around long. His life was over when he was still a young man. His ministry lasted just months longer than I have been here at Monroe Christian Church.
And yet, what a priceless, eternal, treasure Jesus is. I say “is” because he still is, he always “was” and always “will be.” Peter and James and John, and the rest of the Apostle, not to mention Mary Magdalene and Janna, and the women who travelled with and ministered to Jesus, and Zaccheus and the demon possessed man: they all saw Jesus in the flesh.
Daily these men and women were taught God’s truth by the one who is God’s truth. It took them a while to understand who he really was, and it wasn’t even really until his resurrection when he spent 40 days with them teaching them many things that his truth finally began to sink in.
But even after he went to the Father, he left them with an indispensible, indescribable Gift who would guide them into all Truth. The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit does many things, but one of his key roles was to ensure that the truth of God, even the Good News, would be faithfully passed on for generations, until Jesus’ return, so that we could know Him and not be deceived. In His wisdom, God endowed upon the apostles the foundational role of teaching Jesus’ followers, the church, God’s truth.
One of the apostles main functions was the “ministry of the Word.” This meant they were given the weighty responsibility for faithfully proclaiming and transmitting the truth of God, the teaching about Jesus. As eyewitnesses of Jesus, they proclaimed what they had seen and heard through the power and knowledge given by the Holy Spirit.
Now, the last I checked, two thousand years, maybe, 10,000 generations, 104,000 Sundays, roughly 2,190,000 meal times, and billions and billions of McDonald’s hamburgers separate you and I from the ministries of these eye-witnesses, these apostles of Jesus, these faithful proclaimers of the word.
That is a lot of time and space. How can we trust that what we hear today is what was taught back then? Because I don’t want to be led astray. I don’t want to miss out on the treasure of living with our Lord for eternity. I want to know the truth. I want to pass on the truth so that others, like me, can experience the saving grace of Jesus daily enjoying his blessings even as they take up their crosses to serve and glorify Him.
What an amazing and perplexing responsibility the Lord has placed on people to take care of his Truth.
People are fickle! People have hidden agendas! Some people have low IQ’s! Some are too smart for their own good! Some are selfish, preoccupied, uncaring, greedy, self-serving, soft, too busy, why some . . . are even Ohio State supporters!
That is why Jesus—very God himself—spent three solid years personally training 12 men to fully understand and proclaim his truth. That is why he promised, and gave, them the Holy Spirit to guide them into all truth. That is why God’s people have always been people who took God’s words and wrote them down, being careful in accurately transmitting them. whether it was in the times that led up to Jesus, or whether it was in writing down portions of his life and teaching—as John the Apostle says:
John 21 24 This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.
25 Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.
We read about what Jesus began to do and teach in the Gospels, and we read what he continued to do through his church in Acts and the rest of the New Testament. God has never been one to leave his creation. God, as long as there is a day to call “Today,” is always seeking and calling people to himself through his son Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth, the Life. We are called to God through him, and none other, and that never changes. And that is also why God has called for elders to shepherd his church.